Sparkling Wines for Summer
Barry Weinman: 23rd December 2020
The majority of sparkling wine produced is non-vintage, and this is for good reason. By blending years, producers can make a more consistent (house) style, less impacted by the vagaries of vintage-to-vintage variations in quality that can occur.
Whilst Champagne producers like Krug and Charles Heidsieck take this to extremes by blending twenty or more base wines into each release, the reality for most a little different.
The majority of most blends is made from a single vintage, with small amounts of reserve wines added for depth and consistency.
In Australia, many producers (particularly at lower price points) do not have a reserve program, so their NV is actually from a single year, just without the label.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that there can be significant differences in the wine from one release to the next depending on the conditions. So the taste of your favourite bubbles will change over time.
The challenge for consumers is that the labelling does not change, making differences hard to pick. But some producers are making life easier.
Arras Brut Elite has a number on the neck capsule that gives a clue. The current release is labelled 15/01. 15 indicates that it is from the 2015 vintage, whilst 01 indicates the first disgorgement. A superb wine for $40.
Aldi have released two new Yellowglen wines at $8 that are bargains if you need cheap bubbles. The Rosé is my pick. Not overly complex or interesting, but perfectly drinkable for the price.
Quartz Reef – Brut – Méthode Traditionelle – NV. Fragrant, bright, and balanced, with decent texture. Whilst relatively neutral, this is light, fresh and moreish, with gentle toast and brioche notes building on the finish. 62% Pinot Noir/38% Chardonnay. Biodynamically produced. 17.5pts – $40.
Bellabonne – Vintage Rosé – 2017. Colour tinged with salmon pink. Easy to overlook, given how good drinking this is, but there is real depth here. Gentle autolytic characters, supple spice notes and gentle strawberry fruit all swirl in the glass. The finish is supple, balanced and precise, with enough depth to take lighter foods. 17.8pts – $60
Yellowglen – Rosé – Chardonnay, Pinot & Prosecco – NV. This has a most attractive pink hue and is fresh and lively, with exuberant fruity. Not complex or overly dry, but this is an $8 sparkling from Aldi that is actually drinkable. Go figure. 16pts – $8.
Delamotte – Brut – NV. A step up in complexity. Lithe and fresh, with a moderate dosage and driving acidity. A fine, elegant wine with excellent mouthfeel and presence. Excellent length supported by a bitter almond finish that adds to the appeal. 18pts – $75
Alexandre Bonnet – Grande Reserve Brut – NV. A richer, more developed style than the Delamotte that whilst complex, remains taut and fresh with fine acid drive and gentle texture to close. Delicious and moreish, with brioche notes to the fore. 18pts – $70